Detroit Homecoming III – 2016

Tom Karsotis

Founder of Shinola

Steve Ballmer

Fmr Microsoft CEO, LA Clippers owners

Darren Walker

President, Ford Foundation

Jeffrey Seller

Producer of “Hamilton”

Denise Gray

President, LG Chem Power

Tony Fadell

iPod Co-Creator, Nest Co-Founder

The third annual Detroit Homecoming saw its biggest crowd to date, with 200 former Detroiters gathering for the kickoff in the Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center, a fitting spot, since the building’s redevelopment was announced at the very first Homecoming. Over a candlelit family-style dinner, attendees listened as former Microsoft CEO and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer talked with Dan Gilbert about the power of creativity to spur growth in Detroit.

Creativity was a driving theme for the week’s events. Oak Park native Jeffrey Seller received the 2016 Governor’s Arts Award for his stunning work as the producer of the Broadway hit Hamilton. In addition to the day’s panels and the insiders-only neighborhood tours, Homecoming III also featured the Creativity Showcase, where Detroit makers and artisans introduced their products to expats. The annual Pitch Competition saw lightning round business pitches from Detroit-based entrepreneurs looking for angel investors.

During the North End tour, one expat found an unexpected family connection: William Kotcher, who grew up in Mid-Michigan, had always known his family had Detroit roots but never knew any more than that. On the tour of the Kresge Mansion, he mentioned this to the owner of the home, who told a delighted Kitcher that the Kitcher mansion was just three doors down. He was able to meet the home’s owner for a private tour and discover that his great-great uncle had built the mansion.
The third Homecoming also saw Shawn Ward, founder of Ward and Fifth Consulting, pledge to open a Detroit branch of the firm. In addition, he announced the launch of Williamson Goods, an Eastern Market manufacturer of luxury sporting goods.